Taylor A. Behl, Jenna Rodgers, David W. Eccles, Lynn B. Panton, FACSM. Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.

BACKGROUND: Law enforcement experience stressors unique to their job such as working at night, risk of injury, and shift work. While duties and stressors are often similar, the stress of county (CLE) and university (ULE) law enforcement may differ. If not managed properly, stress can have downstream consequences on sleep and health. The purpose of this study was to compare stress levels, activity, sleep, and health markers between CLE and ULE. METHODS: 6 CLE (age: 40.0±10.1 yrs.; women=1) and 8 ULE (age: 38.4±6.4 yrs.; women=2) participated. The Operational- and Organizational-Police Stress Questionnaires were used to determine occupation-specific stress, both of which divide scores into a low, medium, or high stress categories. Participants wore wrist actigraphy watches (GT3X+) for 7 days to obtain activity and sleep measures. The health parameters assessed were body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) blood pressure. Values were compared using independent samples t-tests. Alpha was set at .05. RESULTS: CLE had significantly greater organizational stress than ULE (CLE: 3.92±0.89; ULE: 2.24±0.42); the effect size was large (d=2.41). However, both groups experienced stress in the medium category. There were no significant group differences on the other test variables. However, given the small sample size, we also considered effect sizes. CLE experienced medium and ULE experienced low operational stress (CLE: 3.38±1.34; ULE: 2.88±0.92); the effect size was medium (Cohen’s d=0.44). CLE had higher DBP than did ULE (CLE: 86±6; ULE: 77±13 mmHg); the effect size was large (d=0.89). CLE also obtained more sleep per night (CLE:403±63; ULE: 369±29 min); the effect size was medium (d=0.69). There were only very small differences between groups for physical activity (CLE:11,496±3,041; ULE: 11,221±3,135 steps; d=0.09), BMI (CLE: 32.0±5.5; ULE: 31.9±4.7 kg/m2; d=0.02), SBP (CLE: 128±6; ULE: 125±18 mmHg; d=0.02), and WC (CLE: 98.9±15.7; ULE: 98.0±12.4 cm; d=0.06). CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that CLE experience greater organizational stress than ULE. It is also possible that DBP and total sleep time differ between CLE and ULE. Findings such as these allows us to better address the stress and health needs of law enforcement.

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